Third-ranked Baylor went down two sets to one at Oklahoma, and No. 6 Minnesota trailed Ohio State by the same margin on Wednesday night, but both managed to squeak out a victory. And with a five-set victory for No. 13 Florida over No. 24 Missouri, Wednesday featured exactly zero top-25 upsets.
More on those results and others from around the nation, but first a look at the 29 Halloween night matches on deck.
All power-five teams have the night off, and No. 11 BYU and No. 14 Colorado State are the only ranked teams in action: BYU (18-3, 9-1 West Coast Conference) plays host to St. Mary’s (8-12, 4-6), and Colorado State (21-1, 11-0 Mountain West) puts its 20-match winning streak on the line when Air Force (5-5, 8-14) visits Fort Collins.
Elsewhere in the WCC, Pepperdine (11-10, 7-3) has Gonzaga (6-15, 0-9), LMU (12-10, 6-4) takes on Portland (11-9, 3-6), and Pacific (12-10, 4-6) goes to San Diego (16-5, 9-1), which is tied with BYU for the top spot in the conference.
The Mountain West slate also includes Utah State (2-20, 2-8) versus Nevada (14-8, 4-6), Fresno State (12-10, 5-5) versus UNLV (12-9, 8-2), San Diego State (10-11, 3-7) versus New Mexico (6-16, 1-9), and Boise State (14-7, 6-4) versus San Jose State (7-14, 2-8).
There are five matches in the Big Sky, with league leader Northern Colorado (15-7, 9-1) playing Montana State (10-10, 6-5).
Lipscomb (11-10, 7-3) travels to Liberty (14-9, 7-4) for an ASUN matchup and looking to rebound from a five-set loss to Stetson on Sunday. Fellow ASUN members North Alabama (11-14, 4-6) and Jacksonville (7-18, 3-8) play in Florida.
In the MAC, it’s Western Michigan (12-10, 3-7) at Central Michigan (18-4, 8-2), Buffalo (8-14, 4-6) on the road versus Akron (8-2, 15-6), and Ball State (11-11, 5-5) hosting Toledo (0-10, 7-15).
Of five matches in the Southland Conference, Stephen F. Austin (22-1, 10-0) versus Sam Houston State (12-10, 8-2) has the most potential for fireworks. SFA is riding a 15-match win streak and has a two-match lead in the conference standings with just six matches left in the season.
WAC standings leader NM State has the night off, but the No. 2 team in the conference, Grand Canyon (18-4, 8-2), has Seattle (10-14, 1-9), and Kansas City (11-9, 7-3) faces Chicago State (4-20, 0-10). Middle-of-the-pack Utah Valley (8-14, 5-5) and CSU Bakersfield (8-14, 3-7) play in Orem.
The Northeast Conference’s Merrimack (1-17, 0-11) travels to America East’s Hartford (11-11, 3-3). Grambling (9-19, 4-10) of the SWAC travels to the NAIA’s Tougaloo College.
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Big Ten: Ohio State (11-12, 4-7) freshman Gabby Gonzales had a breakout night for the Buckeyes. The outside hitter from Marietta, Georgia, led the match versus Minnesota (16-3, 10-1) with 20 kills, a career-high, in addition to 16 digs, four assists, and two aces, which came in the midst of an eight-point serving run in the second set. Her fellow frosh Jenaisya Moore had 14 kills and middle Elle Sandbothe added 12.
Of course, it was the Gophers who came out with the win in the end (25-19, 19-25, 22-25, 25-10, 17-15), out-blocking the Buckeyes 17-5 — a season-best for the team — and out-hitting their opponent .253 to .160. Stephanie Samedy led the offense with 18 kills, while Alexis Hart and Adanna Rollins also broke double-digits. Airi Miyabe, who came in as part of a double sub with Croatian setter Tamara Dolonga, impressed with eight kills on just 16 swings with one error to hit .438 for the match. The junior, a transfer from the College of Southern Idaho who was last year’s NJCAA DI Player of the Year, even added three blocks.
“Every match in the B1G is a battle,” Minnesota coach Hugh McCutcheon said. “Not that we expected anything less from Ohio State. They are a young physical team. Lessons learned were more about resiliency and our ability to hang in there. I thought down the stretch, we were able to make some big plays.”
Wednesday’s other two Big Ten matches were decided in straight sets with No. 16 Purdue (15-5, 7-4) beating Indiana (12-12, 1-10) and No. 4 Wisconsin (15-4, 11-0) remaining undefeated in league play with a sweep of Maryland (12-11, 4-7). Reigning Big Ten Player of the Week Grace Cleveland had 12 kills with just one error to hit .579 for the Boilermakers. Dana Rettke led the Badgers with 17 kills and no errors, hitting .654. Wisconsin’s Danielle Hart also broke the .600 mark with six kills and zero errors on nine swings (.667).
Big 12: Until Wednesday night in Norman, Oklahoma, Baylor (18-1, 8-1) had not played a five-set match all season. The Bears won the first set of their match versus Oklahoma (14-6, 6-3) by just two points and then lost the next two to find themselves in a 2-1 hole for the first time this year. Yossiana Pressley helped bail her team out in the final two sets (26-24, 15-25, 29-31, 25-15,15-12), finishing the match with 25 kills, while libero Tara Wulf collected a season-high 23 digs.
“I’m glad that we could experience a five-set battle,” Baylor coach Ryan McGuyre said. “The atmosphere and the adversity are good for us. I didn’t feel like we handled it as well as we need to in the future. Credit great defense by Oklahoma. We can play at a higher level and make better decisions. I thought our maturity was lacking. Shelly (Stafford) came up with some big swings, big kills. It was good to have her starting us off serving tough from the service line to get us back on track. We did just enough to get the win.”
In the loss, Oklahoma’s first at home this year, Ashlynn Dunbar led the Sooners with 18 kills. Oklahoma finished the match with 13 blocks to Baylor’s 9.5, with senior middle blocker Brianna Kadiku responsible for a season-high 10 stuffs …
No. 1 Texas (15-2, 9-0) swept Texas Tech (14-9, 4-5) 25-20, 25-21, 25-21. Micaya White led all players with 14 kills. Brionne Butler had seven kills, hitting .636 and adding four blocks. Texas libero Sydney Peterson had a match-high 12 digs, and Asjia O’Neal led the blocking effort with five …
Eleanor Holthaus had 11 kills and eight digs to lead Iowa State (14-7, 5-4) to a sweep of Texas Christian (7-12, 2-7) (25-15, 25-22, 25-23) …
In Thursday’s final Big 12 matchup, West Virginia (11-11) rebounded after losing the first set to beat Kansas State (7-14) in four (26-28, 25-15, 25-17, 25-19). WVU’s Katelyn Evans led the match with 19 kills.
SEC: No. 13 Florida (18-3, 9-1) at No. 24 Missouri (14-5, 6-3) was Thursday’s only match between two top-25 teams, and it did not disappoint. In the close five-set match (25-22, 17-25, 29-27, 20-25, 15-12), Florida held a narrow advantage in blocks (13-11), but Missouri finished with more kills (68-63), aces (9-8), and digs (72-54).
Missouri outside hitter Kylie Deberg topped all players with 27 kills (hitting .254) and scored a double-double with 12 digs. Thayer Hall led the Gators with 19 kills, adding six digs. Both teams had four players in double-digit kills …
Georgia (16-5, 8-2) swept Arkansas (8-14, 2-8) with 12 kills from Kacie Evans …
Around the nation: Payton Caffrey recorded a double-double with 21 kills and 15 digs in a four-set ACC victory for Florida State (14-6, 8-3) over Miami (8-11, 4-7). Her teammate Taryn Knuth had eight blocks, while on the Miami side of the net Janet Kalaniuvalu led with 17 kills …
Jordan Thompson had 23 kills in a four-set non-conference victory for Cincinnati of the American Athletic Conference (18-5) over Dayton of the Atlantic 10 (16-7). Maria Mallon added 17 kills and 15 digs for UC, while Bearcat libero Mackenzie Conner led the match with 19 digs …
Twenty-two kills from Karolina Nova wasn’t enough for LIU to score a win over St. Francis Brooklyn. With 16 kills from Lauren Montgomery and 25 digs from Kizzy Rodriguez, St. Francis won the NEC match in four sets …
Robert Morris (20-3, 10-0) swept the other Saint Francis (3-19, 3-7) to remain undefeated in the NEC. Emma Granger led with 13 kills and RMU hit .354 as a team and won its 10th in a row ..
Evansville promotes Morales: Fernando Morales has led Evansville to its best start since 2010 — the Purple Aces current sit 14-7, 5-5 in the Missouri Valley Conference — and for his efforts the former assistant has been elevated to full-time head coach with a multiyear deal.
Morales assumed the interim head coach role this spring after one season as an assistant coach for the Aces. A native of Puerto Rico, Morales spent 19 years playing professionally on the island and around the world.
“I want to thank (UE athletics director) Mark Spencer for trusting me to guide this program to where we want to go,” Morales said. “When he named me interim coach, it was a big risk that he took with me not having the experience a lot of NCAA coaches do.”